The UK’s chronic housing shortage is one of the biggest challenges the country faces. The Government is aiming to build 300,000 new homes every year to match demand and keep housing costs affordable, but less than 250,000 were built last year, the highest rate in a decade. But contrary to popular belief, there is not one single national housing crisis. In many parts of the country housing is relatively affordable, and supply keeps up with the demand for new homes.
Instead, Britain has many localised housing crises focussed on its most economically successful cities and towns where employment opportunities draw in large numbers of people. These housing crises are caused by how our planning system disconnects the local supply of housing from local demand.
Cities with the biggest housing shortages are primarily concentrated in the Greater South East of England such as London and Brighton. But some places elsewhere like Edinburgh, Bristol, and York are also affected.
Many expensive cities, such as Oxford and Brighton, often build far less housing than cities with cheaper housing and lower demand, such as Wakefield and Telford. This is because the supply of houses has little connection to prices and therefore the cities with the most unaffordable housing.
There is huge variation around where in large cities and towns new homes are being built. The vast majority of development happens either in city centres or on the very edges of cities. Meanwhile, half of all these suburban neighbourhoods have built less than one home each year.
The UK doesn’t have a national housing crisis, but there is a housing crisis in our most unaffordable cities. Our work offers ideas on how national and local leaders can get homes built where demand is highest.
This report uses new data to examine which neighbourhoods within cities are building the most and the least new homes and explores what this means for policy making.
This report investigates the amount of space people have in different cities and how this has changed since 2011. It sets out what should be done to give people more space and make housing more affordable as the economy grows.
Releasing green belt around more than one thousand existing commuter stations would solve the UK housing crisis.
What's the relationship between urban economies and housing wealth in England and Wales?
The scarcity of new homes in Britain’s most economically successful cities has created huge inequalities in housing wealth.
Urban homeowners in the South East made on average £80,000 more in housing equity than those elsewhere in England and Wales from 2013 to 2018.
This wealth inequality exacerbates existing social problems, and may have been one underlying factor in many areas’ strong Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum.
The housing crisis also creates huge cost for the rest of society. The money spent on housing benefit, the difficulties that the NHS, police, and schools has in staffing roles in expensive cities, and homelessness are all linked to the unaffordability of housing in certain places. Fixing their housing shortages will reduce pressure on the rest of the welfare state.
The UK must concentrate homebuilding primarily in economically successful cities where demand is highest.
The current planning system will not deliver homes at this scale or in the right places. Only a wholescale reform of housing policy will deliver the development needed.
What changes are needed to get more housing built where it is needed?
Politicians and campaigners from across the political spectrum are coming together to push for changes to green belt policies
The Government’s revised planning rulebook focuses too much on rural areas, and not enough on cities
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Cities are good for the planet, but to make them even greener they need to be denser.
Rarely do complex policy challenges have single solutions that, if properly implemented, could go a long way in solving them all. Urban densification is one of these solutions.
How public transport reforms in Portugal could be replicated in Greater Manchester and other UK city regions.
COP26 comes to an end with a crucial discussion on the importance of cities in the climate agenda.
Poor access to public transport effectively shrinks the size of our biggest cities. But trams and tubes alone won’t solve the problem
This report examines whether intra-urban public transport plays a role in the underperformance of big British cities and sets out the implications that transport has for the levelling up agenda.
How our spatial footprint dictates our carbon footprint: the denser the greener
Intuitively, working from home would seem to help reduce carbon emissions. But people who move out of cities drive more and those working in poorly insulated homes turn the heating on.
If reform can bring self-build within reach of millions more people, housing will become more affordable for everyone.
Land-banking and housing targets are artefacts of the current system – planning reform is worth doing to solve the problems which underpin them, and numerous others too.